Artists, Singularity and Recognition; a Decade in Portugueses Visual Arts
Departement of Sociology ISCTE - CIES Lisboa, Portugal
This paper presents the framework and the main results of a research guided by the notion of singularity in portuguese visual arts: its crucial role in artistic identity and the respective process of recognition. We cross the last decade by comparing two panels of top artists and mediators (critics and curators) approached in 1997 and 2007 by interviews, career analysis and portraits of contemporary art collections, naturally contextualized in overall dimensions and evolutions of this art world. This mapping considers institutions, networks and other organizations, markets, mediations and professionals, but also aesthetic trends and discursive lines in the critic, essays, exhibitions and programming agendas, so relevant to understand contemporary art, professional pratices and criteria in recognition.
Centering the study on singularity, the modes by which is conceived, expressed and promoted, notably by specific gatekeeping processes, we expect to highlight its conceptual and operational uses by the art world, but also to reflect about tensions between sociological and "ground" perspectives: how to deal with this concept both problematic and nuclear; connoted with constructions and charismatic celebrations (and individualistic) as with an essential tautology for the individuals that remains in contemporary art, certainly in that ideological sense but equally for genuine meanings of identity?
In fact, as we will see, singularity still remains in the"ground" as an ideal and/or one personal achievement, even if it was reframed within other professional and intellectual conditions, despite all apparent refusals or desconstructions that questioned both notions of author (since Barthes and Foucault) and biography in artistic identity (especially with the modernism). In parallel to many changes in references and tools: new paradigms in art theory and iconographies, electronic media, network and group activity as basis for creativity, etc.
The paper will point, then, this re-shaped and re-placed singularity, its contextual inscriptions and trajectories in Portugal, and its plural meanings - from the "ground" to sociology. We mention, yet, that this research was supported by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation in 2006-2008 and some aspects are included in a project proposed to the National Foundation for Science.